Using a Ladder as a Garden Trellis and Easy-to-Grow Flowering Vine

2 Materials
30 Minutes
By mid August, the flowers in the garden are heat-stressed and looking a little tired (just like me ;) but my favorite summer vine is still going strong and growing by leaps and bounds!
If you’re looking for a flowering vine that is easy to grow, heat tolerant and doesn't need deadheading, look no further than Black-eyed Susan vine!
Black-eyed Susan vine is an easy-to-grow annual and an excellent climber and choice for a trellis or fence. No relation to Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), it climbs 8 to 10 feet in a single growing season, and up to 20 feet in frost-free areas, Zones 10 and 11. It prefers full to part sun, with afternoon shade ideal here in the hot, sunny South.
It blooms all summer long until frost, which is typically November here in North Carolina. Blooms slow during the heat of summer, but pick back up in September. I planted it two years ago to trail along a bench and it was still blooming for pumpkin season!
My wood ladder came from a dealer at an antique mall 3 years ago, already painted green.
It seemed like garden serendipity with the green color close to matching the trim color of my Potting Shed.

I picked up two small vines from the garden center that I planted on each side of the ladder in early May, but it’s easy to grow from seed once the threat of frost has passed. Soaking the seeds in warm water overnight before sowing will speed germination. I used some garden twine to train it to climb the ladder.
By July, the ladder was covered with vine and cheery yellow flowers. The “eye” is actually the throat of the flower that’s a brownish-purple shade.
I ‘planted’ some galvanized watering cans on the steps of the ladder  provide a little garden art and interest.
And I ‘grew’ flowers to add to the watering cans with magnets for a fun, blooming embellishment.
The small metal flowers were leftover from my Repurposed Door Knob Hose Guards.
The most common varieties of Black-eyed Susan vine are yellow or orange, but you can find it available in other colors by seed.
Water it until established and then weekly during the heat of the summer and you’ll be rewarded with blooms all summer long until frost! More photos and details at the link below.

Suggested materials:

  • Black-eyed Susan vine   (garden center)
  • Ladder   (antique mall)

Mary @ Home is Where the Boat Is
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 11 questions
  • Bar12770264 Bar12770264 on Aug 27, 2017
    Do you think it would grow in South Africa ?
  • Ed Ed on Sep 02, 2017
    did you find the cans filled up with water and breed mosquitoes
  • Christie Christie on Sep 05, 2017
    Where did you get the metal flowers for your watering cans? I love the entire picture, including your "little" house. Do you rent it out? I can see clematis or morning glories or any flowering vine even ivy mixed in. You idea is wonderful and I love it. Thanks so much for sharing. Now I just need to find a "little" house.


Join the conversation

2 of 43 comments
  • Candy Spears Candy Spears on Jun 14, 2020

    Thank you so much for this inspiration, I have a step ladder and metal watering cans in storage and didn't have an idea of what to do with them and now i do , I can't wait to get started....!!!

  • Jenny Jenny on Jul 24, 2020

    Now I know what to do with our old step ladder. It's seen a lot of service and I was loathe to throw it away. But no one must ever try to stand on it again. So thanks a lot, lovely idea.